Hey lads, Matt here continuing the pre-season articles in which I analyse the most popular picks from each line and assess whether or not they will live up to the hype, or whether it’s just the clueless fpl challengers basing their team selections on these players, solely based on the teams selected by % and points scored last year without full proof research! Today I will evaluate the Defenders:
Cole- The most popular selection so far this season in defence is Chelsea’s Ashley Cole. Selected by 23.8% of teams he seems a bargain pick up at just 6.5. He is a certain starter in Chelsea’s line up at LB and is known for his marauding runs down the flank, capable of both scoring and assisting. Add this attacking threat to his likelihood of picking up clean sheets in Chelsea’s defence it seems too good an opportunity to pass up. He didn’t have his greatest season last year, missing a few games through injury and ending up with only 111 points. However Chelsea’s defensive returns should pick up this year as they climb up the ladder, bouncing back from a poor season last year. This can be proved by the fact that they picked up 4 clean sheets in their last 10 games after they had only picked up 6 previously during their campaign, lead by former manager AVB. If Chelsea can re-consolidate their back 4 and increase the number of clean sheets, along with Cole’s attacking threat (6 assists last year) then he should be a lock in anyone’s team, I know he is in mine.
Walker- Kyle Walker proved a standout defender in Spur’s improved back 4, notching up 2 goals and an assist to go with their 14 clean sheets. Scoring 140 points last campaign he was a bargain and so far 21.8% of managers have jumped on board, but this year he is priced at 6.5, the same as Ashley Cole. Since I consider Cole a must have, this doesn’t leave much room for too many more expensive defenders. Firstly you can expect a similar return from Walker this year, around 140 points. However priced at 6.5 you must weigh up all other options such as Lescott from Man City. I feel at 6.5 he is the better choice, playing in the champion’s defence which should produce higher returns than Spur’s in terms of clean sheets. You might think Walker’s attacking threats are greater, yet in less game time Lescott also managed 2 goals and 1 assist, the same as Walker. Sure Kyle may improve on his attacking returns this year, but are you willing to take that bet? I feel that Lescott is the safer option, or if you’re willing to take more of a risk Gael Clichy should provide similar attacking returns in City’s defence priced at just 6.0. Sorry Kyle, it’s a no for me.
Kompany- I’ve talked about Lescott and Clichy previously and will expand on them here. Vincent Kompany is Man City’s premier defender and it shows, priced at 7.5. He returned 3 goals and 2 assists along with 15 clean sheets. Interestingly he returned the second most points last year, behind a player that surprised me, Evra. However it has been said that he is past his prime and will not return the same this year, explaining why he will not appear in this article and why Kompany should be considered this season’s best option in defence, backing up the 21.2% of players who have decided to include him in their starting 11’s. Certain game time, clean sheets, even goals and assists! What more could you want? Unfortunately, a cheaper price. 7.5 is a lot to splash out on a defender considering the struggle we have to maintain our budgets selecting our teams anyway I believe it’s worth seeking out a cheaper option in City’s defence. As I have said Lescott should company Kompany (I’m confused as well) in the heart of City’s defence and at 6.5, with a similar ability to score off corners he seems better value to me. If you’re willing to take a risk Gael Clichy should play most games for city and provide much higher attacking returns also. At just 6.0 he seems a steal, but later on in the season as the cup competitions start to bite his game time may well drop off. However expect him to start the beginning of the season at LB and be a great pick also. If you can fit Kompany in then go for it, but I feel it is better value to go safe with Lescott (selected by 19.6%) or take a risk with Clichy (16.1%).
Shawcross- Now we research the cheaper options in defence, with Shawcross priced at just 5.0 and owned by 20.3% of managers. He has the golden ability to score off corners as well as pick up clean sheets. Stoke kept 9 clean sheets both last year and the year before that. However last year they were affected by Europe football and shouldn’t be affected this time around, which will hopefully lead to an increase in clean sheets. Shawcross increased his attacking returns last term with 2 goals and 2 assists and is seemingly a bargain pick up at 5.0. Comparing him to the competition Williams from Swansea gave the best returns last year for a defender rated 5.0 scoring 123 points last term. However (see my previous article on the goalkeepers) I stated that I don’t believe Swansea will replicate their stunning defensive returns without Brendan Rogers this season. I will talk about the other option, Colocinni next but I am confident that Shawcross will be a solid option once again in defence this year, but perhaps not the best at this price.
Colocinni- Finally I will evaluate Colocinni, priced at 5.0 and selected by 18.3% of teams. Seemingly the best route to Newcastle’s defence, Colocinni offers up great value and could be a steal for 5.0. He may not hold the attacking threat of some of the others I have reviewed, but he’s a certain starter in a solid back 4 that returned 15 clean sheets, 6 more than Stoke (Shawcross) last season. There are guys in Newcastle’s back four that may provide more attacking threat, but none with the same job security as Colocinni. If he can stay fit and Newcastle can keep up their great defensive work we saw last year then Colocinni provides a great option in defence. Do I believe that Newcastle will replicate last year’s form? Yes, and in doing so I rate Colocinni and any other Newcastle defender with decent job security (Simpson) ahead of Shawcross making him the best option at 5.0 and a brilliant choice for all fantasy managers, backing up the teams that have selected him so far.
Of the most popular defenders, I would be backing Cole as my first selection due to good job security, a solid back four, plenty of attacking threat and great value. As a cheaper option of the players above I would recommend Colocinni ahead of Shawcross and as an option in City’s defence Lescott or Clichy ahead of Kompany. I hope this was helpful for all you FPLaddicts out there and I will bring you the midfielders soon! Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and feel free to give me any more ideas on articles you wish to be published or what I can help you with, you can also just hit me up on twitter (@MattCraigDT) and I will try to sort it out!